Verbruggen states that Armstrong and other top riders were warned about blood values
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Verbruggen states that Armstrong and other top riders were warned about blood values

by Shane Stokes at 1:44 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Former UCI President had previously insisted he had no doubts American raced clean

UCIAlthough he defended Lance Armstrong strongly in 2011, telling AD.nl that the American ‘never, never, never doped,’ Hein Verbruggen has now confirmed that the American was given a warning about his blood values in 2001 and that other riders were also told to be careful.

The former UCI President has said that the governing body was limited in what it could do at the time. “It troubles you to the extent that you know more than you can say. That you have more questions but can't express it in public,” he stated, according to VN.nl.

The Dutch publication has also said that confidential documents illustrate that other top riders and team mangers were called to the UCI headquarters, shown its strategy and given notice of the values. UCI doctor Mario Zorzoli is mentioned as being involved, as is the Dutch member of the UCI’s anti-doping commission, Leon Shattenberg.

It states that Dutch classic rider Karsten Kroon was warned in 2004 while part of the Rabobank team.

Rather than handing down punishments, being given a warning essentially provides those with suspicious values a second chance. This means they have the an opportunity to stop their doping or – potentially - to be more careful about its use.

“Perhaps you convince them to stop using drugs, perhaps not,” said Verbruggen.

Coming months after the UCI denied covering up a positive test for Armstrong in the 2001 Tour de Suisse but said that a sample was suspicious for EPO, the news that the governing body may have warned the Texan about his general blood values is a further knock to its previous suggestions that he was clean.

Despite those warnings, Armstrong continued to have good dealings with the UCI for years afterwards, and was given a vote of confidence by it in 2005 after L’Equipe reported that a reanalysis of his 1999 levels had shown proof of EPO use.

The UCI also commissioned the Vrijman report, which cleared Armstrong while also blasting l’Equipe and WADA. The latter questioned the neutrality of the report at the time.

Verbruggen was reported in recent days as having had past business dealings with Thom Weisel, the owner of the US Postal Service team. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Weisel’s investment bank managed assets for Verbruggen for several years, while at the same time the UCI . The Dutchman denied any business dealings with Weisel in 2008, but has now accepted that there had been a financial relationship.

However he insists he had nothing to be worried about. “Nothing illegal has happened, or ever did,” he said.

USADA CEO Travis Tygart believes that it represents a serious conflict of interest. “To have the head of the sport, who's responsible for enforcing anti-doping rules, in business with the owner of the team that won seven straight Tours de France in violation of those rules—it certainly stinks to high heaven, particularly now, given what's been exposed that happened under his watch,” he told VN.nl.

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